FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Incarcerated and Invisible

 

Last June, there were 2.1 million Americans behind bars. Out of sight and mind? The answer is yes when it comes to official unemployment figures.

A similar invisibility for the incarcerated was also the case in an April 27 New York Times report on workers out of a job for increasing periods of time. Those locked up in U.S. jails and prisons were also locked out of this report. Talk about perception management.

Yet as our newspaper of record recently reported, over the past three decades the nation’s incarcerated population has quadrupled. Today, the souring job market would appear even worse if those held in the American gulag were acknowledged as potential workers earning a salary or wage. But such is not the case in government statistics or corporate media.

To be sure, the incarcerated do work. It’s not called the prison-industrial complex for nothing. Yet even when these human beings do toil outside of their cells, they’re not officially counted as being employed.

Meanwhile in America since the mid-1970s, the working day has grown longer and longer. The unionization rate of private-sector workers has tumbled sharply as employers and the government have teamed up to beat up on unions. These trends have been a boon for America’s Fat Cats.

Their wealth accumulation has expanded almost beyond belief. This, in turn, has rendered a growing section of the nation’s work force increasingly irrelevant to the U.S. economy. From Boston to Compton, these are the throwaway people, no longer needed to labor for the creation of wealth held by a few.

What are the social implications? Who is (not) asking this crucial question? And why?

Currently, the U.S. economy is floundering. Some wits have called this a “post-bubble” phase of the business cycle, following the hi-tech and stock market meltdowns. In response, President Bush and Congress are fiddling with the amount of new tax cuts for the super rich, presumably to re-start growth.

One hears, reads and sees much about the need for business spending to increase for job creation to improve. To be sure, this would help workers. Under a market economy, their labor-power is a commodity that is sold and bought, bought and sold, depending on the demand for it by business.

This process is governed by the profitability of the few who own society’s productive assets such as factories, land and so forth. Some in the GOP might call such an assertion evidence of “class warfare.” But every social story has at least two sides to it, and often more than that.

Under today’s market economy, how much would business spending have to grow to employ the 8.4 million Americans who were officially unemployed in March? And for those living in U.S. jails and prisons who aren’t counted in the official jobless rate to be gainfully employed? One need not have the answers to ask the questions.

SETH SANDRONSKY is co-editor of Because People Matter. He can be reached at: ssandron@hotmail.com

 

 

More articles by:

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Email sethsandronsky@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail